Guten Tag. Sorry folks.... have been terribly busy ever since I came back from the trip, and to top it all we are having a badminton tournament in this country for all associates of our company across various cities. Don't ask me how I managed to come to office on Wednesday (Tuesday evening was the first practice session). It was more of a reality check, and the fact that I am on the wrong side of 25 now, did dawn upon me with a new haze and glow. Not a particularly favorite hue of mine though and am sure those who are sailing in the same boat would agree with me. Anyways here is an account of the travel.
Easter Vacation 2006
München: Tag Eins (Munich: Day One)
We started of (D n me) from Aalborg at around 5 pm to Odense from where we would take the Intercity till Munich. Only one change - not bad. Now a word of caution about my travelmate D. He is one person, who if says "We should walk left to find the place", then without wasting a second, you should walk right and you'll be spot-on at your destination. I trusted him with finding the platform for boarding the train and went and waited for the train while all this time the train which we were supposed to be travelling in was behind our back. Thx to the blonde chick who walked past and while my gaze was following her I happened to spot the train in which we were supposed to travel. Anyways, after a dash to hop in the train and a flurry of choicest expletives(To D with love), we were both seated. Wow what a begining to the travel. I solemly vowed to cut down on the adventure in the trip and hence relieve D from all such duties during the entire trip.
We reached Munich, the capital of the southern state of Bavaria, around 9 am and the first thing we did (after grabbing a sandwich each) was visited the office of Radius Tours to get their iternary of tours. There was one at 10 am which was the walking tour of Munich. We quickly left for our hotel which was about 5 mins from the main train station - Hauptbahnhof.
We were back at the station to begin our tour at 10 am. Incidently we were the only two people who took the tour, which kinda raised a few questions in my mind. Our guide Robert, was an American from Texas who had been in Germany for about 6 years now. We kicked off the tour from Marienplatz(pic above). Marienplatz is Munich's central square and is dominated by the impressively ornate New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus). The town hall is 79 meters high and was built between 1867 and 1909 by Georg Joseph Hauberrisser in Flemish Gothic style. On the walls of the rathaus are small and big figures of dragons rats, gorgoyles which are basically to ward of evil and as a protection against the plague which kocked off half of munich's population in the early 17th century.
On the Neues Rathaus is the Glockenspiel(pic above). Life size figurines which come out n dance everyday at 11 am(and sometime in the evening too I guess). The first level figurines are dancing for the occasion of the marriage of some Duke/King, I dont remember the name. After a while two knights on horses come out and joust each other. The Blue knight is Bavarian and the Red one is Austrian. There was clapping when the blue knight jousted out the red one.
On the second level are the barrel makers who came out and danced when the plague got over. When the music stops most people disperse but this is not the end of the Glockenspiel ritual. Not until the rooster crows.
Right in the middle of the square is Mariensäule(pic above), a great column topped by a golden Virgin Mary, and surrounded on four corners by beast slaying little cherubs. It was erected in 1638 by the Elector Maximilian I after Munich was occupied by the Swedes during the Thirty Years' War. Now one of the cherubs is killing a snake and believe it or not the snake represents protestants(see in the pic). In the Middle Ages, the square used to be a market place as well as the place where tournaments and festivities took place. but once they put up the golden Mary they shifted the market from here.
On the east of the Neues Rathaus is the Altes Rathaus(Old Town Hall). The original Old Town Hall was completely destroyed by fire in 1460. Between 1470 and 1480, the old town hall was rebuilt in Gothic style by Jörg von Halsbach, who was also responsible for the Frauenkirche. It was completely destroyed again during the IInd world war, but rebuilt afterwards. The last part, the tower, was completely rebuilt in 1972 so it won't be surprising that one may take the building for a regular building and miss it.
The square is also overlooked by the twin spires of the Frauenkirche(pic above). The building measures 109 meters high and is only 40 meters wide. Its distinctive domes, which were built in 1525 would serve as a model for many of Bavaria's towers. Now a folklore which goes with this monument is that, Munich didnt have a bishop and in order to get one, it was decided that they will build a cathedral and then ask the Holy Roman Emperor for one. Now the cvathdral had to be built quick. Legend says that the architect Jörg von Halsbach had a deal with the Devil that, the devil will not obstruct the construction of the place and in turn the architect promised that there will be no windows in the building. The whole building took about 20 years, which is remarkably fast if u keep in mind that most cathedrals will take about 3 generations. The reason was that the building is made of bricks and not marble or granite or any other stone. Anyhow, all set and done, the place got finished and the devil came to inspect it. The architect asked devil to stand at one place and view the building. No windows indeed. Amazing. And as the devil took another step all the windows became visible to him. Reportedly he got so pissed off that he stomped his foot on the ground and that footprint is still there. If you keep your right foot on the imprint then you are at the position from where you cant see a single window. And sometime later Munich got an archbishop. The current Pope Benedict XVI, was an archbishop here. The building on the exterior is mostly simple and the original gothic interior has been destroyed n restore many a times. One of the most interesting things inside the church is the grave of Prince Elector Kurfürst Maximilian I. The twin onion shaped spires of the cathedral are the tallest thing in the city and as a rule, no building in Munich can be taller than 109 meters, which is the height of the spires. The gold statue of The Virgin Mary, Mariensäule, was earlier placed here.
To the south east of the Marienplatz is the towering spire of the Peterskirche(pic above). St. Peter's is the city's oldest church, although nothing remains from the original built in 1368. Alter Peter has been rebuilt so many times that now there are layers and traces of Gothic, Baroque and Rococo style. The interior is full of interesting altars and an amazing ceiling. The mural on the ceiling is simply gorgeous. The church also contains the gilt-covered and gem-studded skeleton of St. Mundita. From its resting place on a cushion, it stares at you with two false eyes in its skull and jewels covering the mouth and rotten teeth. Quite scary, I would say. She is supposed to be the patron saint of single women and on her day if u coe n pray to her then you will find a man, subject t the condition that your prayers are answered. So ladies if u r single n looking u know where to go. I asked my guide if there was a patron saint of single men. He didnt know.... HMPH!!!
For 1.5 Euros you can walk up the 302 steps of the spire and have an amazing view of the city from a height of 92 meters. Thx, but no thx :-)
A little beyond the St Peter's is the Viktualienmarkt. It opened as a small herb market in 1807 and over the past 200 years, it has developed into one of the city's biggest attractions. Here one can buy exotic n local fruits, vegetables, all kinds of cheeses, meats and other foodstuffs from all pver the world. Its a bit expensive for regular grocery shopping. Of course there's also a Biergarten (Beer garden), and I am told its the only one in town which can sell beer from all the 6 breweries in Bavaria, 40000 litres from one and then they move to the next brewery and so on. It has a maypole in the center. tradition goes that if during the Oktoberfest the neighouring villagers manage to steal your maypole and erect it next to theirs in their village then yiou ought to pay for all their beer in the next years fest.
Phew.. that took a while. Munich - One down , one to go.
(PS: For some reason, unknown to me, the pics refuse to enlarge. Sorry for that. If someone knows why this happens or how this can be fixed, please lemme know.)